Archive for March, 2016

When the Rain Came. And When it Went.

March 10, 2016


We are mid rains. That means it can lash cats and dogs and the sky be slung so fatbellied low that you wonder if it will ever, ever lift so that you can see the horizon again, wonder if the rain will ever stop. The lights sputter as the power lines swing dangerously in high winds, skeletal trees drop skinny limbs too weak to hang on, you have to rig a tarpaulin on the verandah to stop your house flooding, shuffle furniture around, shroud the telly in a towel. And the flying ants pop out of the sodden earth and party briefly only to drop deadly hours later so that the lawn is littered with this gossamer wings. If, that is, they are’t snaffled up by the dogs first.   I have watched, in the past, in another long ago Africa garden, two dogs, a cat and a pair of geese feasting on these airborne snacks.

But then, between storms, there is the heat. When the sky is pulled taut whiteblue at all its corners so that clouds, the few that hang high, are stretched onionskin thin and you imagine it will never, ever rain again. I pour water onto gasping plants late in the evening, at seven, when it’s still bright enough to see but a lowering sun is too low now to pinch hotly, meanly, with fiery fingers.  I swim in a pool the temperature of just leftover soup, I shower in cold water that’s been uncomfortably warmed in the pipes so that it isn’t nearly as refreshing as I hoped it would be. I sleep as a starfish, on my back, beneath a fan. I say, ‘god it’s so hot’. I say that a lot.

We are always either wondering, at this of year, when the rain will end. Or when it will begin.



Cat Biscuits and Courage

March 4, 2016

My little sister is here from her Zambian home. Also an outpost, but better populated than mine. She has a supermarket with more than one trolley which is all our Amory sports because there’s never more than one of us who require it at any one time.


She brought me cat biscuits and chilli flakes per my shopping request. Because she came via big cities which I have not seen for more than a month. The chilli flakes for me; the cat biscuits for the feral little thing I’ve adopted and who traipses after me all day, every day, getting fatter by the week for who could ignore the Oliver plaintive mews for more, please.

My sister, C, and I have had time to swim together, up and down, up and down, lap after lap, more exhausted from the chat than the exercise. We have had time to dissect things we’ve never had the time to. Six years my junior, there was a gap – a gap when she was a child and I a teen, when she was a student and I a new mother . The years have narrowed the gap – our common ground has grown. We have laughed loud and long. We have shared cold beers. We have touched lightly on the tougher stuff ; we do not want to cloud precious days of sunshine.

And we have put heads together over mum: her future, her fragility, her reading. Sometimes it seems a lot to grapple with, it has been good to sound ideas out. It is only recently – and with some startled, delighted surprise – that I discover my sister bears a wisdom and a common sense that I sometimes lack as I flail in panic wondering what to do next. As the eldest I assumed a mantle of responsibility when Dad died. Before that: when mum got sick. When I was 13 and C barely seven.

C bears a graceful privacy. Does not wear her heart so untidily on her sleeve as I. Her approach is one of warm pragmatism. I remember her as that 7 year old, trotting along beside me as Dad hauled us into the psych ward to see mum in hospital. C was more interested in the chocolates beside Mum’s bed than I, who was consumed with useless fear and confusion. Her lightness then helped to brighten the darkness. Six years later, when Dad died, she was the small hand that slid itself into my clammy nineteen year old one, ‘it will be ok, A’, she said, and smiled, bravely dry eyed in the face of this enormous, life shattering loss.

And now, a new chapter in our lives, a new big change, new big decisions, new fears and she wings her way up.

And she brings me cat biscuits and chilli flakes.

And courage. Again. She brings me courage.